OWA Parks & Resort, located just 15 minutes from the beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast in Foley, has quickly become a must see for families, either as an add-on to a beach vacation or a destination unto itself.
Published: June 30, 2022
By: Carol Muse Evans
There is truly something for everyone in the family! The original Tropic Falls at OWA, the gated theme park with more than 23 rides/attractions, means everyone in the family has something to enjoy. They even have special ticketing for non-riders. The area features free parking, as well.
And now OWA has added another “park” – a new water park featuring indoor and outdoor offerings, and the two parks together have become Tropic Falls at OWA, with the water features just opening in late June to the public.
Downtown OWA, just next to Tropic Falls, offers a wide array of fantastic restaurants and shops, even if you aren’t going into the theme park. Downtown OWA is free and open to the public daily, and it even includes the OWA Theater with great shows throughout the year, worth the trip alone. The park and downtown area feature numerous special events throughout the year, including the recent Balloon Festival in mid-May. Watch the website (www.visitowa.com) for a list of special events.
TROPIC FALLS AT OWA
The existing theme park, along with the new water park, have experienced the expansion playing on the tropic theme through both the parks, combining the name and theme.
The original theme park has more than 23 attractions, from the tame yet so-fun kiddie rides to the breathtaking Rollin’ Thunder rollercoaster, Air Racer, Crazy Mouse Coaster, Mystic Mansion and even their own take on teacups. This immaculately clean and well-organized theme park truly offers family-friendly fun.
The new water park’s outdoor wave pool includes a surf simulator, a stage area to enjoy music and shows from the water, and a restaurant overlooking the simulator, beach area and ample seating, private cabana rentals and restrooms with lockers.
The indoor water park is huge, with 100,000 square feet under one room, and 65,000 square feet of the space being the water attractions area. Noteworthy is that the indoor water park will be the only indoor water park in the U.S. with a retractable wall and retractable roof, and it includes 11 water slides, with those for the thrill seekers as well as five family-friendly slides in the kids water play area.
Now you can purchase just general admission day passes either for the theme park only, or a combo with water park, or 2022 season passes for both. Check the website for special discounts, non-rider passes, and of course, special events throughout the year! Watch for package discounts on lodging at the on-site Marriott TownPlace Suites, discounts on merchandise in the park and even early access.
Don’t miss eating at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant, sit in the cool indoors or on the patio and enjoy the lake outside while water enthusiasts at OWA’s Aqua Play and Wake Park at Gravity Island. Great seafood, salads, sandwiches and more, and very family friendly. visitowa. com/dining/lucys-retired-surfers-bar-restaurant/
One of my favorite restaurants at OWA is Valerio’s. This very affordable Italian restaurant and pizzeria is quick and delicious, and food is plentiful. Counter service means quick turnaround for eating in the restaurant or take out. visitowa.com/dining/valerios/
Paula Dean’s Family Kitchen is a classic at OWA, and this home cooking is consistently delicious and served family style. Bring a big appetite! Don’t miss a look around in the unique gift shop. visitowa.com/dining/paula-deens-family-kitchen/.
These are our personal favorites for meals, but there are so many more to choose from, from watering holes to sandwich shops, ice cream eateries and more. Be sure to check out your choices online before visiting at visitowa.com/dining/.
Shopping at OWA is plentiful and fun, from the traditional souvenirs to boutiques with authentic Native American-made arts and crafts, jewelry and more. Enjoy the “surf” vibe at stores like Alvin’s Island. Take home something special from the Fairhope Soap Shop, and there is everything from tea, sweets and even a magic shop.
Downtown OWA is also home to Gravity Island Water Sports, the centerpiece on the lake. Opened in the summer of 2021, this wake park is the first of its kind in coastal Alabama. Whether you are a novice or an experienced wakeboarder, you can find something that suits your level of experience here. Its sister park, Aqua Play by Union AquaParks, is an inflatable obstacle course in Lake OWA. Thrill seekers must be at least six years old and able to swim in order to qualify for a session on the Wake Park or Aqua Play. Learn more at gravityislandwatersports.com.
The OWA Theater in downtown OWA, near Paula Dean’s and the Marriott TownPlace Suites, is home to many shows throughout the year, but one of the most popular may be the Legends in Concert. These concerts are so well done and use celebrity impersonators to bring the likes of Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, Shania Twain and many more, complete with a live band, dancers, great costuming and much more. The current summer lineup runs through September 4 and features Katy Perry, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Cyndi Lauper and Bruno Mars. Visit visitowa.com/entertainment/legendsinconcert/ for more information.
WHERE TO STAY
The Marriott TownPlace Suites Foley is on site at OWA and makes visiting the parks and downtown convenient and within walking distance to everything OWA. The Tanger Outlets, Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and the white sands of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are just minutes away. Check the OWA website for packages and special offers, www.marriott.com/ en-us/hotels/pnstf-towneplace-suites-foley-at-owa.
Stay at the beach, drive to OWA and have the best of both worlds for an extended stay. The Hampton Inn & Suites Orange Beach is just 15 minutes from OWA and features Gulf front rooms and free daily breakfast, as well as covered parking. www.hilton.com/en/hotels/ mobobhx-hampton-suites-orange-beach-gulf-front.
The park, whose name means “big water,” is owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. In addition to downtown OWA and the newly combined Tropic Falls, OWA offers a full calendar of events, from its own Mardi Gras Parade, annual Christmas tree lighting with real snow and fireworks, and of course, the Marriott TownPlace Suites and the OWA Theater featuring the Legends Concert series.
For pricing for the parks, Legends in Concert, and packages including the Marriott TownPlace Suites, as well as days/times of operation, visit www.visitowa.com.
Carol Muse Evans is publisher and editor of Birmingham Parent.